In general, I recommend avoiding picking up a pet rabbit if you don’t have to. This is because holding a rabbit can be a pretty scary experience for many bunnies, so it’s best to keep it to a minimum. However, there are always going to be times when it is necessary, and I know full well that there are many bunnies that are quick and good at evading people when they just don’t want to be held.
My go-to trick when working with rescue rabbits (who often have distrust for people and avoid being held) is plain and simple. I throw a towel on them. This is an easy way to make the rabbit stay still for just enough time to swoop in and scoop them up in your hands. It also protects your hands from being bitten if you are dealing with a slightly aggressive rabbit.
All you need for this technique is a large towel. A hand towel probably isn’t large enough; I recommend a full size bath towel, or some piece of cloth that’s a similar size. It just has to be big enough that your rabbit won’t be able to get out from under it too quickly.
I broke this down into the steps below to help you out and give you a look into my thought process, but the gist of it comes down to, throw a towel on top of your rabbit and quickly pick them up.
Step 1: Block off escape routes
When you’re trying to pick up a speedy rabbit, first make sure they can’t skitter out of the way of a towel and hop under something that will make them impossible to pick up. This also forces your rabbit out into the open and makes it easier for you to get a clear view of your rabbit when trying to cover them with the towel.
If you miss, it also keeps your rabbit from immediately going back into hiding. Many rabbits will be a little bit spooked if you miss covering them the first time, so they’ll be even more stubborn about not coming out into the open. Covering up escape routes will make it easier for you to try again.
Areas to secure include:
- Under furniture (like sofas and beds)
- Gaps between and behind appliances
- Small crevices around the room
You can use anything you have to block these hiding spaces. Flattened cardboard boxes are my go-to, but you can use fencing, furniture, or anything you have on hand. If your rabbit is currently in one of the hiding spots, wait for them to come out, then seal off the area so they can’t get back under.
Remember, the goal is not to stress your bunny, but to guide them into a safe, open space where you can easily scoop them up with a towel. By eliminating their escape routes, you’re gently herding them toward the area you want them to be in. Keep it calm, keep it friendly.
Step 2: Throw a towel on top of your rabbit
When you’re aiming to pick up a fast rabbit, patience and a gentle approach are key. Wait until your rabbit is within a comfortable distance—no need to chase them, as this will only increase their stress and energy.
Once your bunny is near enough, take a soft towel and gently toss it over their body, aiming to cover their head and eyes. It might sound a bit weird, but here’s the trick: rabbits often freeze when their vision is obscured, giving you a precious moment to pick them up.
This maneuver will temporarily disorient your rabbit, giving you the chance to scoop them up before they can wiggle out from under the fabric. Use this opportunity to pick them up safely. Just remember, stay relaxed. If you’re calm, your rabbit is more likely to stay calm too.
Step 3: Quickly scoop up your rabbit
Once you’ve gently thrown the towel over your rabbit, act swiftly to pick them up. Walk up to your rabbit quickly so they don’t get away. Then crouch down and scoop up your rabbit, towel and all.
Make sure you are still paying attention to the way you pick up your rabbit. You want to make sure both their front half and back half are supported. This balances support across your rabbit’s body, reducing the risk of injury.
The towel acts as a barrier and can remain until you’ve fully secured your friend. It will also help keep your rabbit from squirming too much, and prevent an aggressive rabbit from biting your hands.
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Recommended Products and Brands
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The two brands that I use when buying food for my rabbit are Oxbow and Small Pet Select. These both have high quality rabbit products and are companies that care about the health of our small animals. If you are purchasing anything from Small Pet Select use the code BUNNYLADY at checkout to get 15% off your first order.
- Hay: Second Cutting Timothy Hay from Small Pet Select
- Pellets: Oxbow Garden Select Food for Rabbits
- Treats: Oxbow Simple Rewards
- Toys: Small Pet Select Natural Toys
- Enclosure/cage: A rabbit exercise pen
- Rabbit carrier: SleepyPod Mobile Pet Bed